Mexican X-plainer: Tamal vs. Tamale

David Bowles
4 min readJun 12, 2019

There’s a debate raging on the Internet and inside Mexican American culture: What is the singular of “tamales”?

While I personally say “tamal,” there is absolutely no reason to shame people for saying “a tamale” instead of “a tamal,” especially when they’re speaking English.

Yes, in Mexican Spanish the singular is “tamal.” But it didn’t have to be.

Image of tamales from depositphotos

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David Bowles

A Mexican American author & translator from South Texas. Teaches literature & Nahuatl at UTRGV. VP of the Texas Institute of Letters.